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Malthusian Financial Planning

28 April 2008 - Markets - Editor

We hope that prophets of doom are wrong. Some of us keep worrying they could be right. Malthus lived 200 years ago. He postulated the dilemma of population growth. That nightmare is now close.

Famine is sad. It has been oceans away all our lives. Pictures of refugees fighting over food are horrifying. We have succeeded in keeping the reality from our eyes. Global trade brooks no isolation. It is not like bodies returning from Iraq for Arlington. The administration cannot conjure the facts.

US corporations do business abroad. They stand to lose when law and order breaks down in other countries. Even subjects of the King of Saudi Arabia are disgruntled. Their incomes have shrunk because of food prices. China keeps Tibet under a firm hand. However, even Beijing cannot stop people from protesting over food shortages.

It could get much worse. There could be a new dictator in some part of Africa on tomorrow’s TV. The monsoon may be erratic in vast swathes of Asia. All this is without a word about either oil or electricity.

Learn from Florida. Make plans for the hurricane season. Get off the streets. Stash essentials close at hand. Listen to the radio. Rehearse how to call for help. Batten down the hatches.

Financial planning for 2008 should assume that the prophecies of Malthus will come true. You are unlikely to have to depend on any soup kitchen. However, you should cut back on dining out and exotic wine from Euro zone. Use public transport as much as you can. Stop dealing in all stock market derivatives. Do not stop investing.

 


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